Injuries decimated the Arizona Diamondbacks in 2014 as they won just 64 games, the fewest in the majors and their first losing season since 2010. Their wins total for this year on MLB odds is 72. Where should bettors lean on that number?
Nowhere To Go But Up
Arizona entered last year off back-to-back 81-win campaigns and thought it would at least contend for a wild card spot with the offseason additions of slugger Mark Trumbo (Angels) and closer Addison Reed (White Sox). Yet about the only good thing that came from 2014 is that it earned the Snakes the No. 1 overall pick in this summer's amateur draft.
Because of injuries, only nine players on the Opening Day 25-man roster survived the entire season on the active roster. Arizona had to play 19 rookies, a franchise record and second most to the Rangers. The 650 combined games those Arizona rookies played led the majors.
Presumed ace Patrick Corbin had to have Tommy John surgery in the spring and didn't pitch a regular season inning. Fellow starting pitcher Bronson Arroyo had been almost superhuman in terms of durability in his career, never landing on the DL. He was limited to 14 starts before also undergoing Tommy John. Perennial NL MVP candidate Paul Goldschmidt was in only 109 games. Trumbo just 88. Impressive young outfielder A.J. Pollock in 75. Starting shortstop Chris Owings in 91 games. So on and so on.
Hard for any manager to win with those types of injuries, but the team fired Kirk Gibson. Really the franchise started its overhaul during last May when it hired Hall of Famer Tony La Russa as the chief baseball officer. He has since hired one of his former pitchers, Dave Stewart, as the GM and Chip Hale to replace Gibson. Hale had spent plenty of time in the organization as a minor-league manager and third-base coach. He had that role the past three years in Oakland.
Obviously health is priority No. 1. Corbin (14-8 with a 3.41 ERA in 2013) had his surgery early enough that he should be able to contribute by June at the latest, which anyone making MLB picks has to keep in mind. Arroyo, however, probably isn't likely to help until maybe August at the earliest. The ace and Opening Day starter for now is Josh Collmenter. He was 11-9 with a 3.46 ERA last season and will be on the mound April 6 at home against reigning World Series champion San Francisco.
Only one other guy who was on the Diamondbacks last season will likely open the season in the rotation: Trevor Cahill (3-12, 5.61). The other three should be Jeremy Hellickson (acquired from Rays), Rubby De La Rosa and Allen Webster (both from Red Sox). The latter two were acquired in the deal that sent Wade Miley (8-12, 4.34) to Boston. Reed remains the closer despite a 1-7 record and 4.25 ERA last year.
As for the lineup, Trumbo had played at least 144 games the previous three years with Anaheim and hit at least 29 homers in each so he should be good for 30 if he can stay on the field. Goldschmidt also had been very durable the previous two years. He was the NL MVP runner-up in 2013 when he hit .302 with 36 homers and 125 RBIs. He seems good for .300/30/100 if Goldschmidt can play 150 games. Pollock and Owings look like good young players. Aaron Hill used to be one of the best offensive second basemen in baseball but hit just .244 with 10 homers and 60 RBIs in 2014. The Snakes will have a new starting catcher in Tuffy Gosewitch after trading Miguel Montero to the Cubs.
But the clear guy to watch this spring and this season in the desert is Cuban import Yasmany Tomas. He got nearly $70 million this winter. There's no doubting that Tomas has plus-plus power, but you still never know how these Cuban players will transfer their skills to big-league pitching. The Snakes also are hoping he can handle third base or else they will have to do some shuffling if Tomas has to play a corner outfield spot and Jake Lamb the hot corner.
As noted above, Arizona has a wins total of 72 on 5Dimes, with the 'under' a -130 favorite in the MLB odds. The Diamondbacks are +4250 to win the NL West. That's not happening even if Tomas is Jose Abreu.
Arizona Diamondbacks Season Win Total: Go 'under' those wins. The lineup looks pretty decent if Tomas is anything, but that pitching staff should be one of the worst in the National League. Plus the Dodgers, Padres and Giants will be able to load up on wins in the division against Arizona.